2004 marks the 75th birth anniversary of Mehdi Akhavan Saless

According to a memorial book, “Bagh’e bee bargy” Akhavan Saless was born in Mashad in Esfand 1307 and died in Tehran on 4th of Shahrivar 1369, five days after his return from his only trip outside of Iran to Europe.

Excerpts reproduced below from ‘Peyk’ Magazine, publication of the Persian Cultural Center of San Diego is a fitting tribute to the legacy of that outstanding poet who did much to reacquaint his nation with its ancient proud heritage.

“His superb poetic gifts made Mehdi Akhavan Saless a towering figure in contemporary Persian poetry, and one with whom younger poets had to come to terms.”

“In his longer poems, Akhavan brings together the epic tradition of Ferdowsi, the dramatic qualities of Zoroastrian hymns – particularly the Gathas and the Vendidad – and themes from the simple ballads and tales of the Persian oral tradition in a light poetic structure capable of sustaining reader’s attention and interest through the long stretches of narrative.”

“Akhavan became known nationally after the publication of his second volume of poetry, entitled ‘Winter’ (1956). The book was hailed as one of the most important achievements of Nima Yushij. Subsequently, Akhavan published several other collections, including ‘The Ending of the ShahNameh’ (1959), ‘From this Avesta’ (1966) and ‘Autumn in Prison’ (1969).”

A native of Khorassan and deeply versed in the literary traditions of the NorthEastern part of Iran, Akhavan remained faithful to the spirit of Khorassani poetic conventions. He began his career as a teacher, and found himself caught in the midst of the political turmoil of the 1950s and was briefly imprisoned in 1953 following the coup d’etat that beset Iran. He went on to work for the Ministry of Education, the National Radio and Television organization, among others.

Akhavan Saless passed away in Tehran in 1990 leaving behind a remarkable literary legacy. His remains were moved to his native Khorassan, city of Tous and buried in the shadow of the mausoleum of another legendary Iranian poet Ferdowsi.

Amongst his compositions one comes across “Thou this Ancient Land, I adore thee” with a dedication that reads: To Dr. Jalil Doostkhah (Isfahani), and all other Nobel Spirited Iranians. The English rendition of few of the couplets from that composition follows.

From all things earthly, if I acclaim
Thou this land so ancient, I adore
Thee the birth place to so many nobles
Cherisher of magnanimity, I adore
“Thine Ormuzd and Yazatas, I worship
To thine ancient prophet
A wisdom seeking sage whom I adore
The noble Zarathushtra, more so than
any other sage or prophet I adore
Humanity better than him has not seen nor will
and this noblest of humanity I adore
His trio the best guide for the world
That concise, impactful guide I adore
That great Iranian a leader
That Iranian leader I adore
Never killed, nor asked others to
This noble role modeling I adore”
Your Ferdowsi, the legendary literary tower he erected placed in the hall of fame and glory, I adore